McConaughey, Leto at their best in 'Dallas Buyers Club'

Akron Beacon JournalFebruary 6, 2014 


    These DVDs were released this week:

    Films: About Time (family comedy from writer-director Richard Curtis); Baggage Claim; Free Birds; Escape Plan (starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger); The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete (this Sundance selection, a sad and scary story about two boys alone in the projects, made the Family Filmgoer's best of 2013 list); Romeo and Juliet (featuring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth); A Case of You; Jules and Jim (1962, Criterion Collection); Burton and Taylor (BBC biopic starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West); The Little Penguin: Pororo's Racing Adventure; Scorned; House of Versace (Lifetime original); Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues (documentary); Wings (Dove-approved family film); Banshee Chapter; The Divorce; Care Bears: The Care-a-thon Games; The Lady Vanishes (BBC Masterpiece Mystery! adaptation of Hitchcock classic); My Dog the Champion; Nova: Cold Case JFK; Pit Stop; Masterpiece: Classic English Literature Collection, Volume 2 (includes The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Mansfield Park, The Turn of the Screw, A Room With a View); Geronimo Stilton: Intrigue on the Rodent Express and Other Adventures.

    TV series: Family Matters: Fourth Season (1992-93); Laverne & Shirley: Seventh Season (1981-82); Midsomer Murders, Set 23; Joanie Loves Chachi: The Complete Series; The White Queen; The Broker's Man, Series 1; Lalaloopsy: Friends Are Sew Special!


Sometimes actors get on these stretches where it seems not only that they are everywhere, but everywhere they are is good. Matthew McConaughey is on one of those runs.

His output since 2012 has included Magic Mike, a movie he pretty much took over; the acclaimed Mud; the marvelous HBO series True Detective; and two Oscar-nominated movies, The Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club.

He is nominated for an Oscar for best actor for the latter film and has to be considered the favorite right now. At the same time, his Dallas Buyers Club co-star Jared Leto is on track for a best supporting actor Oscar, having also won earlier honors for his work.

Those two actors alone should be enough reason to check out Buyers ($29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo). They are terrific. But they are also giving their best in service of an excellent movie, whose six nominations also include best picture and original screenplay.

McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a rambunctious and reckless Texan who learns in 1985 that he has HIV. Determined to fight the virus and the likely onset of AIDS, he begins questioning what is passing for treatment and demanding other approaches. Because the FDA is refusing to authorize some of the alternatives, Woodroof goes to Mexico and smuggles drugs into the United States. He also learns of others seeking medical assistance — including transsexual Rayon (Leto). With her, he sets up a "buyers club" that skirts laws against selling unapproved drugs by selling memberships in the group and then giving the drugs to members.

The movie is many things at once: an examination of discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS, an attack on government obstinacy, a couple of gripping character portraits of complicated people and a film about change and redemption.

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